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Orphans Get Charity Help

Orphans in China have received a boost thanks to a US$250,000 donation from the US-based charity Lions Clubs International.

The "Tomorrow Plan" project organized by the Ministry of Civil Affairs is to be given the cash.

The project, which started last June, has so far carried out over 7,000 operations on orphans in China and supported their rehabilitation.

An official in charge of the project surnamed Jia said co-operation with the charity will not only financially benefit orphans but also increase awareness of the scheme, encouraging more people to participate.

The charity, founded in 1917, has strengthened its Chinese presence by setting up the China Council of Lions Clubs.

Clement Kusiak, international president of the International Association of Lions Clubs, said the China Council of Lions Clubs would increase its membership, contributing to welfare services and charity work in China.

With its motto "we serve," the Lion spirit entered the country three years ago when the Shenzhen Lions Club and Guangdong Lions Club were established in South China.

To date, over 1,800 people have joined the two clubs.

Since the 1990s, the organization, which has become one of the largest contributors to China's charity sector, has invested over US$20 million in medical treatment, social welfare, education and the rehabilitation of the disabled.

In the first five-year phase of "Sight First China Action," launched in 1997 by the Ministry of Health, the Chinese Disabled Persons Federation and Lions Club International, 2.2 million cataract patients in poor and remote areas have had their sight restored.

In the second phase between 2002 and 2007, US$15 million will be spent on 2.5 million cataract patients.

Tang Xiaoquan, secretary-general of the State Council Co-ordinating Committee on Disability, said the full introduction of the international charity into China will enhance the welfare services.

"The establishment of the Lions Clubs in China is in accordance with the trend that welfare services, which were mostly government organized, are inviting in more capable resources from society."

(China Daily June 15, 2005)

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